A high-level delegation from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development has visited the North West to engage with local companies ahead of a trade mission to the US.

During the trip, the representatives met with local businesses and visited Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and CoLab to explore the opportunities for partnership with education and business centres in the US.

The visit comes just weeks before a trade delegation from Derry, Strabane and Donegal travels to Boston and Philadelphia.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Michaela Boyle said she was delighted to showcase the city and region for investment and collaborative working.

She added: “The delegates were very impressed with our offering and how well placed we are in terms of offering cost competitive business opportunities in a cross border location, along with high level digital connectivity with a skilled and talented workforce pool.”

John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said the work being done by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council and its partners to promote the City Region for investment was beginning to gain momentum.

“We are really seeing the benefits of this joined up and positive approach to establish strong economic development links and initiatives between the US and the North West region,” he added.

“The visit by this delegation puts us in a really positive position ahead of our trade mission planned for November.”

Seamus Neely, Donegal County Council Chief Executive said there would be a strong emphasis during the upcoming trade mission on promoting the region’s strategic cross border location to the US market.

“We will also be showcasing our talent, skills and entrepreneurship along with our strong ICT strengths, well established eco system and quality of life,” he said.

The North West City region trade delegation will build on the work done over the past number of years to build strong political, economic and cultural links and to reach out to the diaspora. Key to the visit is the inclusion of local companies to promote the region as an attractive investment proposition and to develop new market and network opportunities.

For more information, visit www.IrelandNW.com #IrelandNW19.

Foyle Port has announced a new record turnover of £10million, with
an operating profit of £1.9million for the 2018/2019 financial year.

Despite uncertainties over Brexit and its effects, this marks the
Port’s seventh year of consecutive growth.

All profits will be reinvested to improve the business and upgrade
facilities.

Recent financial success has allowed the Port to undertake ambitious
capital investment in assets and infrastructure worth £3.5million, which
includes the purchase of a new harbour crane and expansion of the Port’s
landbank to 155 acres.

Foyle Port, which celebrates its 165th anniversary this
year, now employs more than 100 staff, with a payroll total of £4million per
year.

Foyle Port chair Bonnie Anley said: “Over the last year in
particular, there has been ever increasing anxiety about Brexit and its
impacts. Potential change and uncertainty, both locally and nationally has had
to be managed.

“We’ve risen to that challenge and are ready for the outcome of
Brexit in terms of a ‘deal’ or a ‘no deal’ scenario. As a commercial entity, we
have shown that we can be flexible and adapt to the new realities of the
business environment.”

Foyle Port chief executive Brian McGrath added: “We have a strong
balance sheet and are primed for future investment. We are one year ahead of
delivery in terms of our strategic plan, which will give us much need time
before setting the direction of travel for 2020 and the outcomes of Brexit.”

In addition to the Port’s core activity, it has seen growth in its
diversification programme such as the Port’s civil and structural engineering
division, Foyle Consulting Engineers.

A cybersecurity company has announced 70 new jobs in Derry-Londonderry as part of a £4.5 million investment.

Based in the city, MetaComplance develops cloud software for cybersecurity and compliance, providing software solutions and e-learning content to educate employees on the dangers of a cyberattack.

The firm is looking to grow its business into new markets in the US and Europe. The 70 new jobs, which will help develop the cybersecurity learning market via cloud-based solutions, will inject an estimated £1.9 million per year in additional salaries into the local economy.

MetaCompliance chief executive Robert O’Brien said: “Our ambition is to be internationally recognised in our field of expertise. We have seen a rapid global increase in the demand of cybersecurity products and services, particularly since GDPR has been implemented.

Invest Northern Ireland has offered £695,000 of support towards creating the new jobs and market development activity.

John Hood of Invest NI said: “MetaCompliance is already a strongly established business within the cybersecurity sector. The creation of these jobs will build upon its previous success and help the company to expand its presence in the North West, the cybersecurity market, and in new markets.

Invest NI has previously supported MetaCompliance with job creation investment in 2017; management and digital training for employee development; and R&D support for its Voyager and MyCompliance Cloud user awareness cloud solutions. The company is also currently receiving support through Invest NI’s Skills Growth Programme.

North West Regional College (NWRC) has scooped two prestigious awards at the local annual Business Awards.

The European Union has announced that it will provide almost €9m (£7.98m) in funding for a 30-acre park that will cross the Northern Ireland border.

he project spans 30 acres linking Strabane and Lifford

The Riverine project, which is designed to increase cross-border understanding, will stretch from Strabane, a town in west Tyrone, to Lifford, a town in the neighboring county of Donegal.

The money comes from a €270m pot of funding that was created by the EU in 2014 to support peace and reconciliation projects in both Northern Ireland and the counties in Ireland that sit along the seamless border.

Some €9m will also be provided by Ireland’s rural and community development department, and Northern Ireland’s communities department.

Gina McIntyre, from the EU body that awards the funding, noted that the project would create a “shared space which citizens can enjoy together, irrespective of their background.”

The money will be used to build a pavilion building, outdoor wetland and park space, cross-border pathways, and a pedestrian footbridge that will span the River Foyle. Riverine will host a community heritage engagement programme and a culture and peace activity trail.

A creative arts programme and a shared space connections project are also planned.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Michaela Boyle said that the project could be a “real catalyst for transformation” and said that it would “further strengthen” cross-border links.

Ireland’s Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said the EU funding “is a major boost for the area”.

Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities said the project “provides a great opportunity to further our ambitions for a shared, welcoming and confident society that respects diversity.”

Significant City Deal and Economic Growth Funding Package confirmed for Derry and Strabane.

The announcement today of a £105M economic package by the UK Government in the Derry City and Strabane City Region has been widely welcomed by City and District partners with the Mayor saying it will be “a significant catalyst for change and economic growth” for the Derry City and Strabane District and the wider North West and expressed his delight that it has been secured during his Mayoral year as a key priority.

The investment package announced comprises a £50M ‘City Deal’ and a £55M ‘Inclusive Future Fund’ and is the culmination of a long period of engagement with Government in relation to advancing priority projects and initiatives within the City and District’s Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan and City Deal proposals.

Reflecting the model recently announced by Government for the Belfast Region City Deal, it is anticipated that the UK Government investment package announced today of £105M for Derry~Londonderry and Strabane will be at least matched by a similar commitment from the NI Executive and will lever further investment from project partners and other third party sources which it is hoped will eventually lead to an overall investment injection of in excess of £300M.

The announcement follows a visit to the City last July when the Chancellor, Philip Hammond met with civic and political leaders to hear of the plans and invited a bid for a City Deal to be formally submitted.

The bid, supported and endorsed by all local and regional political parties and representatives and devised around the key strategic economic projects outlined in the City and District’s Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan 2017-2032.

Led by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the bid was developed in partnership, and with the support of a wide range of local education, business and economic partners – including the Ulster University, the North West Regional College, both the Londonderry and Strabane Chambers of Commerce, the Western Health and Social Care Trust, Visit Derry, City Centre Initiative and the Foyle Port, in consultation with all associated NI Government Departments.

At the core of the bid is education, innovation, job creation and skills development with a key focus being the advancement of the much sought after expansion and growth of the Magee campus of Ulster University.

The investment package announced today, will enable planning and business case development to now proceed on proposals for a significant landmark riverfront university medical education and innovation hub, comprising a graduate entry medical college and centres of innovation, research and teaching excellence in data-driven personalised medicine, cognitive analytics and robotics and automation, eventually delivering over 200 new posts/research assistants at the City’s university and upwards of 2,000 additional students.

The stimulus package will additionally advance the delivery of a range of smart city and digital infrastructure projects and initiatives, further positioning the City and District as a highly digitally enabled location for cutting-edge business development and expansion and inward investment.

The catalytic impact of this could therefore result in the single biggest ever combined and integrated funding injection the City and District, that will enable progress and delivery of other key infrastructure, tourism and regeneration projects contained within the Plan and Bid in both Derry City Centre and Riverfront and in Strabane Town Centre.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle said: “This hugely significant announcement today for the Derry and Strabane District will go some considerable way in addressing the long-standing obstacles to economic development that this City Region and its people face. It is good news and is the result of an enormous amount of work and sustained effort invested by Council and the City and Regional partners to develop, deliver and negotiate on the bid.”

Council Chief Executive John Kelpie acknowledged the collaborative approach and the unified vision and commitment demonstrated by politicians, and partner organisations in development of the bid and the advice and support received regionally and nationally in securing such a positive outcome.

Enthusiastic about the opportunity presented by today’s announcement he commented: “This City and District has seen much progress in recent years economically, physically and socially. It has however significant remaining challenges in overcoming an infrastructure deficit and a legacy of underinvestment both of which have been such inhibitors to sustainable economic growth.

“This funding package, if directed at the key agreed strategic growth projects and if used to lever significant further public and private sector investment, will deliver a new era of unprecedented growth and development for the City and Region providing tangible benefits for all of our citizens and a promising future for our children and young people.”

Other City Deal Project partners reacted equally positively with the Vice Chancellor of Ulster University, Professor Paddy Nixon said, “This investment will now see the rapid development of plans to grow and enhance facilities and student numbers at the Magee Campus including the Graduate Entry Medical School.”

Brian McGrath, President of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce said: “This funding is hugely welcome and provides a solid platform upon which to grow and enhance the competitiveness of the City and Region and attract further significant exciting new companies, business prospects and investment.”

Council Chief Executive, John Kelpie concluded:  “The next steps will now be for everyone to continue to work together to develop the necessary detailed business plans and advance the projects through planning and design. We will do this by using this unprecedented opportunity to promote the future of this City and District as a location of choice for all in terms of business, lifestyle and ambition.”

A high-level inward investment team from the State of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia visited Derry, Strabane and Inishowen in October as part of a visit to Northern Ireland.

During their visit to the North West the group met with the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council John Boyle, and visited a number of local businesses, including E&I Engineering in Burnfoot.

They also spent some time at the North West Regional College and the Ulster University Magee campuses to see at first hand the region’s entrepreneurship and innovation and skilled workforce.

The delegation also attended a business engagement lunch with the Chamber of Commerce and met with international investors and local business representatives who are interested in doing business in the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia areas, as well as local companies such as Fleming Agri and Marblehill, who already export to the US.

The visit was just weeks ahead of a forthcoming trade mission to Boston/Philadelphia, which will saw companies from Derry, Strabane and Donegal travelling to the US along with representatives from Derry City and Strabane District Council, Donegal County Council, the Local Enterprise Office, North West Regional College and LYIT.

Among the representatives who visited the city this week from the State of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia were Mr David Briel (Executive Director, Centre for Direct Investment, Pennsylvania); Mr Richard Kilner (Office of International Business Development, Center for Direct Investment, Pennsylvania); Mrs Sylvie Gallier Howard (First Deputy Commerce Director, Department of Commerce, City of Philadelphia) and Mr Vaughn Ross (Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Philadelphia).

Mayor Boyle said: “They were very impressed with our offering and how well placed we are in terms of offering cost competitive business opportunities along with high level digital connectivity and a young and well educated workforce.

“They were very keen to further explore the existing trade and export relationships that exist with companies from the North West region and Philadelphia, as well as the wider State of Pennsylvania. We are starting to see the benefits of this joined up and positive approach to establishing strong economic development links and initiatives between the US and the North West region. Our relationship is very strong and there is a real eagerness to develop our relationship further.”

For further Information  http://www.derrydaily.net/2018/10/23/mayor-welcomes-high-level-us-delegation-to-north-west/

 

An October trade mission to China as part of the 4th UK-China Regional Leaders Summit that was held in Dalian, has been hailed as a huge success by Derry City and Strabane District Council who led the delegation from Northern Ireland.  The local delegation accompanied by senior representatives from Central and Local Government, Invest NI, Queen’s University, Ulster University, the North West Regional College and other education and business partners had a number of meeting while in the host city of Dalian in the Liaoning Province.

Speaking following the five-day visit, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr John Boyle said the visit was significant in terms of profiling our region and getting a unique insight into the Chinese tourism, business, technology and education sectors.

This is the 4th UK-China Regional Leaders Summit and Derry City and Strabane District Council was the lead Council as a result of its existing relationship with the host city of Dalian where it signed a Friendly Co-operative City Agreement last year to formally acknowledge the strong working relationship between the two cities and regions.

Speaking on his return from the visit, the Mayor said links with China are hugely important in assisting us to expand our business, tourism and education connections.

He welcomed news of the signing of an official MoU between the North West Regional College and Dalian College during the visit.

He said: “I was very impressed with the visit and the way in which we were so warmly welcomed to Dalian by officials who were genuinely interested in how we can work in collaboration for the mutual benefit of both cities and regions.

“The visit was extremely worthwhile in allowing us to get a real insight into their economy and culture.

“We are starting to see the outcomes from the signing of the Friendly Co-operative City Agreement last year and are delighted that our partners, the North West Regional College have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dalian College.”

The Mayor added that the city of Dalian is hugely significant in China.

Based in North East China, the City of Dalian is a global financial centre with a population of over 6.5million and specialises in the Financial and IT sectors.

It is also home to some of the major players in these industries including Oracle, IBM, CISCO and Convergys.

“Derry and Dalian have a lot in common and we were delighted to be able to continue with the work done so far through our Co-operative Cities relationship so that we can encourage more investment, more international students and tourists to our city and region.

“It’s a very important part of our commitment set out in the Strategic Growth Plan and I am confident that as a result of this visit we can continue to bring positive connections and links between the two cities,” he concluded.

For further Information http://www.derrystrabane.com/Council/News/China-Summit-important-step-in-forging-business-an

Ulster University gets £5m donation to boost data analytics

Ulster University is to boost its prominence in the field of data analytics and artificial intelligence following a £5 million donation.

The money is to be spent on the establishment of the Dr George Moore chair in data analytics. The late Dr Moore was described by the university as “one of the founding fathers” of the data analytics industry.

Professor Paddy Nixon, vice-chancellor, Ulster University, with Angela Moore, who made the donation.

Professor Paddy Nixon, vice-chancellor, Ulster University, with Angela Moore, who made the donation.

The donation was made by Dr Moore’s wife, Angela Moore. Recruitment for the role has begun and the selection process is ongoing.

“The chair will be a stellar, world-class academic, who will lead an innovative research team responding dynamically to the real-world needs of data analytics,” said Ulster University.

“In recognition of Mrs Moore’s gift, Ulster University will recruit an associated research fellow and three PhD students who will contribute to revolutionising global AI and data analytics research.”

Dr George Moore, born in Co Louth, left Ireland in 1972 and established Targus Information, a world leading data analytics service provider, whose technologies are used by many Fortune 500 companies.

Dr Moore predicted the explosion of information that would follow the creation of the internet and he recognised the commercial value of harnessing such information though data analytics.

Ulster University awarded Dr George Moore an honorary doctorate in 2005 in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to society” and his global impact on the field of data analytics.

Magic thermal ink tells us when food is fresh

Every time we buy food, we’re given an indication of its freshness through a measure of time – a best-before date.

“Temperature is a more important indicator than time – whether that food has been transported and stored at the required freezing, or chilled, temperatures,” says the man who has led Nuprint for more than 20 years, Gavin Killeen. Nuprint, a labelling producer, has a new R&D project to create temperature-sensitive inks for food labels. The project is part of the ‘North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing,’ EU funded under the INTERREG programme.*

Owing to food warming up to ambient temperatures when it shouldn’t, the World Health Organisation found that 25% of food products in the US are beyond their best – before they hit the supermarket.

Gavin said, “Temperate-sensitive labels have been possible for some time, but it’s been cost-prohibitive. Food products are fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). We could use copper-etched circuit boards and RFID tags, but the cost is too high for FMCG. We need an inexpensive ink capable of carrying a charge or a circuit.”

 

He explained, “In the case of a frozen chicken, its label would be stamped with a thermochromic ink stating ‘Not Suitable for Human Consumption.’ That warning would only become visible if the chicken is exposed to ambient temperature for long enough, say it was left out of the freezer, or the refrigerator was shut off during transit.”

Presumably it isn’t good enough to have this label on bulk packaging, with several chickens inside, because a consumer won’t see that?

Gavin said, “It needs to be on individual food items. Therefore it may only be for expensive cuts of meat, maybe not a container of coleslaw. The question is, what are consumers prepared to pay for?”

Nuprint’s academic partner is the University of Glasgow. What is the scope of the research?

Gavin said, “We’ll have a fulltime PhD student researcher, with a few senior academics involved.

What’s your proposed timeline for a commercial outcome?

“I’m hopeful that in two or three years we’ll have something that can be marketed,” said Gavin.

He described some of the challenges they face. “It’s a classic chicken-and-egg; how do we get the price low if we don’t have high volume, but we can’t achieve the volume until we get the price down.”

Gavin continued, “The question is how to bring the technology onto flexible labels and packaging.”

The next phase for a longstanding Derry~Londonderry firm

Nuprint has been in business since 1984, and Gavin has led it into the future. “We’ve invested £2.5m over the past 18 months, bringing in new digital printing technology with variable data, new sleeve labelling technology, and other technology. We’ve also invested heavily in our staff. We work with global brands like Coca-Cola and local brands such as Linden, Willowbrook and Dunbia.”

I read Nuprint has a goal to expand to 50 staff this year; how are you doing against that target?

“We’re currently at 43 staff members and we’ve very committed to our people,” he said.

How does Northern Ireland rank when it comes to food, and food safety?

Gavin said, “Northern Ireland is second-to-none when it comes to food. Maybe we don’t sell ourselves as well as we could, when it comes to premium Northern Irish beef for instance. Other regions have perhaps sold themselves better, without having our high standard of quality. This means there’s a global opportunity for Northern Ireland’s food producers.”

*More about Interreg EU

Catalyst Inc is the lead partner in an €8.5m INTERREG EU funded project ‘North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing’ (NW CAM) that links Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland to deliver 15 research projects that are meeting industrial need within the Life and Health Science sector. The project has six industrial partners of which Nuprint is one.